“Attending HCC was a transformative experience that empowered me to become a confident, internally-driven, life-long learner. Now, having had a great health care career, and having earned my Ph.D., I’m proud to be back at HCC teaching students all that I’ve learned.”

— Charles Gutierrez Ph.D., 1974 HCC Graduate, Respiratory Therapy

After graduating from Plant High School, I was advised to forego HCC. At the time, HCC was still relatively new and many thought the academic environment to be unchallenging. Paying for college, however, was a major obstacle that left me few options. I chose to attend HCC and found that because of the small class sizes, professors often interacted with students as "emerging colleagues" rather than intellectual subordinates. The classroom environment was educationally enriching and supportive. I earned my A.A. in pre-medicine, and with the help of Sam Weaver, the HCC Jobs Placement Coordinator, I landed a job at the James A. Haley VA hospital in Tampa, where I cultivated my passion for neurorespiratory care. With my HCC degree, and experience from the VA, I was accepted into the University of Central Florida where I earned a B.S. in Respiratory Therapy and an M.S. in Health Science. I continued my education, earning my Ph.D. in Health Science from Touro University International. Today, I have come full circle, and as a professor of respiratory care at HCC, I’m more convinced than ever that the path I chose was the right one. My desire is to help students find a passion that will take them to their life’s work. I strive to teach how students might apply classroom concepts in a future career; something I learned long ago from an inspiring HCC professor.